Monday, December 31, 2007

Best of 2007: Television

Here is our best of the best from television:

1. Battlestar Galactica: No show is willing to tackle as difficult of storylines (war, suicide bombing, strained family relationships, etc.) and mix it in with fabulous visuals and terrific actors. Its dark, brutal and terribly entertaining. This is not your fathers’ Battlestar and you will be happy to take a peek and catch the best show on television.


2. 2. 30 Rock: I will say that I was not initially convinced. I was initially drawn to Aaron Sorkin’s other SNL behind the scenes show ‘Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.’ That lasted about 1 week. 30 Rock ended up being light years funnier, better characters, more interesting and without a doubt, one of the funniest shows on television in a long time. Tina Fey is fabulous and Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan round out a terrific cast. Seriously, very, very funny stuff.

3. 3. Dexter: This is not network television and it should not be. Though, the rumor is, that it will be on CBS this Spring in an edited format. The story focuses on a guy that is a forensics expert for the Miami Police Department. He also happens to be a serial killer. But don’t worry, he only kills people that are really, really bad. That makes it OK doesn’t it? It is extremely dark and it keeps you on your toes. It is also a show that you can’t take your eyes off. Michael C. Hall is absolutely terrific in this show.

4. 4. Veronica Mars: We always get looks when we tell others how good this show is. But there is a reason that it is on every critics Top 10 list every single year. It is well written and its lead actress, Kristen Bell, is entirely watchable (she is now on the show ‘Heroes.’). There is a reason that Joss Whedon (writer of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, Angel the series, Firefly, etc.) has said “Best. Show. Ever. Seriously, I've never gotten more wrapped up in a show I wasn't making, and maybe even more than those. (...) These guys know what they're doing on a level that intimidates me. It's the Harry Potter of shows.” The sad thing is—this show was cancelled this past year and it ends its brilliant 3-year run.

5. 5. The Office: This show keeps plugging along and is hillarious. Brodi and I were huge fans of the original British version. We both dreaded an american remake because we couldn’t imagine them being able to pull it off. Well, they did. Though it has a similar theme with similar characters, both shows are rather different with different humor and a different emphasis. The american version is a worthy companion to its british counterpart.

6. 6. Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia: This is on FX. It is about 3 guys and a woman that own a bar together. They are all inappropriate and it is uproariously funny. Whether it is about religion, race relations, family interaction or just sheer stupidity. Very funny stuff.

Other shows not on the list but are worth a viewing: Weeds (on Showtime), Amazing Race, House and the Closer (TNT).

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Best of 2007: Movies

We love our movies and there a bunch of pretty good ones this year. We saw everything from the blockbusters to the little indie flicks. Here is the best of what we saw this year.

Hot Fuzz: From the writers of ‘Shaun of the Dead’ came this subtle spoof of the buddy action flicks. It focuses on a good police detective that is sent to a suburb of London to help with some major crime. He gets a doofus for a partner and they have to work together to solve what is going on in this village. The violence is over the top in a spoof sense, but the comedy is apparent and entertaining. Not as good as Shaun of the Dead, it is still very solid.

A Fistful of Quarters: The ultimate competition between 2 guys. Only the best can win and only the best can claim to be an all time great. Yes, I am talking about a battle for the world record in the arcade game of Donkey Kong. As strange as it sounds, this movie will leave you cheering from your seat and will often lead you to curse at the screen. There is a good guy and there is a bad guy and a whole lot of fun in between in this documentary of trying to get a world record.

No Country for Old Men: This is a brutal show. It is difficult to watch and it is fabulous. It is a Coens brothers flick. It is darker than ‘Fargo’ but it is a movie that is hard to take your eyes off of (my eyes were hidden behind the spaces between my fingers throughout). It tells the story of a guy that took over a $1 million from a drug deal gone bad that he happened to stumble upon. The movie is about him and the person and the people coming after him wanting that money.

Waitress: An indy flick about a small town girl in a bad marriage and all she wants is to be happy and to make pies. Light hearted with a good message, good plot and terrific acting. A pleasant surprise.

300: Seriously, how can you not love this movie? The women get to watch a bunch of buff men in loin cloths and the men get to watch lots of fighting and action. A true story that was embellished to thrill and entertain. A movie with some great lines, many of which are documented historically, such as when the bad guy growls at the opposition that they have too many fighters and that "Our arrows will blot out the sun." To which the hero replies "Then we will fight in the shade."

The Bourne Ultimatium: High energy and another terrific Bourne flick. At times a little more subdued that the two early flicks, but a good storyline and a good dialogue.

Casino Royale: Nice to see Bond back and better than ever. I had grown tired of Bond. In fact, I grew tired of him when I was about 16 years old. This movie changed that I am excited to see the next one. Daniel Craig is tough and edgy and the movie was good.

Once: This is a terrific show. It could be considered a ‘chick flick’ but it pulls it off for guys and girls. It is the story of a guy who meets a girl. This girl inspires him to pursue his musical aspirations. The pace is rather slow, but the story progresses along in an interesting way. The music is terrific. Of note, the two main characters are both musicians who learned to act for this flick. The guy is the lead singer of the band ‘The Frames.’ The soundtrack, as well as the movie, should be a definite buy

Friday, December 28, 2007

Best of 2007: Salt Lake City restaurants

As most of you know, Brodi and I eat out quite a bit. Its not that we hate cooking, its that we don’t enjoy it as much as eating out. Now, with that said, we can cook. I can use the grill with the best of them to cook up steaks, fish, chicken, etc. Brodi can cook up some fabulous mash potatoes and spaghetti (and many, many, many other delicious meals! Love you honey) but we get takeout and we dine out. So, with all that said, here are some of our favorites over the past year.

Nicer/more formal

The Melting Pot—Yes, we know this is a chain restaurant. We understand that. But, we love it and we go too often. How can you beat melted cheese and unlimited selections of breads and vegetables to dip into it. How can you beat fishes, meats and chickens in a tasty broth to go along with potatoes and vegetables. And how can you beat melted chocolate over brownies, fruits and cakes. Its difficult to beat that and that is why the Melting Pot is in our top 10.

Himalayan Kitchen: The restaurant, to be honest, is lacking in terms of ambiance. It is located on 4th South and State Street and you will most likely not be impressed by the looks of it. It is also small with no more than 20 tables. But if you are looking for terrific indian/nepalese food, this is the place. I have eaten at 8 indian places in Salt Lake City and the only one that can compete is the Bombay House.

Caffé Molise: Located downtown, it has a very nice outdoor setting as part of the restaurant. Very good italian food with good waiters and generous portions of food.

Thai Lotus: Located across the street from the old SLC Library, this just opened up this past year. Cheap meals with lots of food, the Thai food is well done and as authentic as you could hope for. The yellow chicken curry is terrific.

Faustinas: A modern hip setting and some very good food. Not cheap but their lasagna is absolutely terrific. This is located in the downtown area.

Rodizios: It is hard to go wrong with lots and lots of meat that is brought out to you and cut for you right there on your plate. They also have some good salads to go with it. But, you go for the meat. Come hungry because the food does not stop.


The Dodo: Yes I am a male and yes, I do like the Dodo. Good sandwiches, good soups and a very nice chicken alfredo. Located down at the Gateway, it is worth it to have their most popular Turkey Sandwich or their Chef Salad.

Bohemian: A german pub type restaurant out by Jordon Commons. Garlic fries are tasty but will leave your breath with a special smell for weeks. Nice atmosphere and good food.

Citris Grill: A nice setting and a casual setting. Good food that will fill you up. The Southwest Chicken wrap is tasty as well. Good luck in finding parking though.

The Pub: located at Trolley Squares, this is my favorite of the three other Pub restaurants (Stellas and Red Butte Café being the other two). The pasta salads are terrific and the atmosphere is high energy and loud.

Others that worth a visit: Mengs Garden in Millcreek, the Cowboy Grub on Foothill, Rio Grande down by the Gateway, the Happy Sumo and Z Tejas down at Gateway, Sampan in Sugarhouse, Dasks out at the Old Mill and The Other Place and Cinnegrill downtown.

If any of you have any restaurants that you enjoy, let us know. Later this weekend, we will have the Best of 2007 movies and television.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Recap

I love Christmas. I really do. But, I have to say that it is also nice to have it over. It is such a hectic time and it is crazy and the kids love it, but it is nice to relax a little the day after and take it easy.

We had a lot of fun as usual though. We spent Christmas Eve, as we always do, with Brodi's family where we had a great dinner and then opened up our first presents which are always pajamas.

Christmas morning started early, but not as early as for others. Carter and Beckham both woke up just before 7am and we finally let them go into the living room. Carter was pleased to see that the cookies and milk were gone by the fireplace. Though Carter did inform me a couple of days before, after looking at our 'skinny' chimney that 'Santa is too big to down that. How is that going to happen, daddy?' But, the presents arrived and Carter spent the next few minutes opening his and helping Beckham open his gifts as well.

We then had a nice Christmas lunch with my family. Lots of kids and lots of presents. Carter also spent part of the day helping his older cousin learn how to play the Nintendo DS system. Seriously, Carter is a genius at computer games. He will either make a lot of money when he gets older in computer gaming and programming or he is going to be a bigtime nerd or both.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Flashback Sunday: Christmas of yore

Christmas is coming! Christmas is coming! Here are some pictures of the past few years:




2006 (awesome Carter hair)
2006 (Beckham very happy with his new Spongebob chair)

I got my Christmas shopping done early this year. I love Amazon...I was able to order on Saturday and get overnight shipping ($3.99 per item) and I will get it all on Monday, Christmas Eve. Good thing that I planned ahead. And I can accomplish all of my work sitting in my underwear, watching ESPN all while eating some cereal (sorry about the visual).

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas food

This is a great time of the year...I get lots of chocolate, cakes, cookies, etc. and I can eat as much as I want and because its Christmas time, I won't gain weight. Thats true isn't it? But, I figure that I can't gain much weight--all I have eaten so far today are about 13 chocolate truffles, a couple of donuts and a few cookies. I am sure that my lunch will be much healthier.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Small body, small place

Beckham is one talented boy. If there is a small place in our house, he will figure out how to fit his body there. Our small island sink became a perfect place to spend an evening.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Today is Carter's birthday. It is crazy to think that he is already 5 years old. I think of everything has changed for us over the past 5 years since he was born:
  • Lived in Washinton DC, Denver and Salt Lake City
  • Lived in 3 different apartments and 2 different homes
  • Sam has had 2 different jobs
  • Brodi has had 2 different jobs
  • He now has a little brother

We love our 'good little boy' Carter. For a kid that never talked until he was 3-years old, we can't get him to stop talking now. He loves running around, he loves role playing, he loves his imaginary friends and he loves bossing his little brother around. He is fearless. Whenever we go to Disneyland, he rides every single ride. That includes Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Indiana Jones and Soarin' over California. He has wanted to ride the horses from, it seems, since he was born and he happily jumps on the horse and wants to ride away. I can count on one hand the number of times that he has actually seemed nervous--he seems to take each situation, no matter how stressful or out of his element he is, in stride.

He has had his own share of mis-haps and accidents. He plummeted on top of a coffee table and got 3 stitches right over his eye...he had a chainlink gate smash him in the face opening up another gash which required 3 stitches over his eye...he was playing around with cousins and landed on the ground wrong and broke his collarbone...he pulled down a small cabinet at church and ended up with cuts and bruises all over his face...he had a door shut on his finger which nearly cut it entirely off but we were able to save it and it took 11 stitches to put it back together...he had a heat induced seizure at Disneyworld and had to spend the better part of a night at a hospital in Celebration, Florida. He knows what pain is and he has dealt with it like a superstar.

He loves trains and trucks. He loves going to big open areas like the UofU for football or basketball events. He loves Scooby Doo, Duck Dodgers and Harry Potter. He does not like it when his mommy or daddy sing to him either. He loves running (he loves to run around the Olympus High School track and he will go around it a couple of times before he even begins to get tired). He loves computer games and he loves scary books (like Where the Wild Things are and the Blue Monster).

We had a fun party with Brodi's family as well as our friends the Jefferies. They all came over to our house and Carter was spoiled and got great gifts and had fun hantoo good of stuff. It was then off to my family where he was spoiled again with gifts and cake. He had the time of his life today. Happy Birthday to our Big Boy.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

McDonalds--quite possibly the happiest place on earth

So, it is late on a Saturday afternoon and I am looking for some good, healthy food for the kids. I also want to take them to a charming place full of good times and good friends/strangers. Where else to go besides McDonalds. McDonalds management were very smart. Build big playgrounds in their stores and then watch all the kids come in and play and eat and eat and eat.

Both Beckham and Carter love it. It has huge tunnels which take you up to the big slide and it is a true party coming down that slide. Carter often comes down with a new friend that he met on the way up and they basically hug each other and go down the slide together.

It also seems like every time we go, we meet very interesting people. There are these 4 cute 80+ year olds that we see nearly every other time we go this McDonalds. They sit in their same seats, they eat the same food and probably have the same conversations. Very nice and are always ready to make a cute comment about our kids. There are the single moms or single dads that strike up conversations with me...there are the families that are just wanting their kids to play and be out of their hair for a few moments...and there are the grandparents trying to keep control over their grandkids. The thing that always makes me smile though is that all of them are genuinely interested in just talking to me or with other parents. Its like we have some kind of McFriendships. An unbreakable bond of unity--keeping our kids happy.

I am not sure how much our kids like the food there, but they love the BBQ sauce. Beckham can dip that fry, the same fry, into that sauce 10 times until it is so soggy, it basically disintegrates in his hand. Nice visual, huh? Carter just grabs his food and takes it with him up the slide.
We'll be back. We always go back for their addicting BBQ sauce, their rockin' slide and all of the other interesting individuals we meet there every time we go.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Free Information and takeout from the Cheesecake Factory

When we lived in Denver, we lived on the 16th Street Mall. We were on the 28th floor with great views of downtown Denver as well as Mile High Stadium and the Nuggets hoops arena. That was all nice, but the best part of it was what was across the street on the ground floor: the Cheesecake Factory. I can't tell you how many times at 10pm, Brodi and I would make the 'smart' decision to order takeout...take the elevator down to the 1st floor, run across the street and pick up a couple of slices of cheesecake. 2000 calories later, we were feeling pretty good, although a little bloated and a little bit fatter.

Fast forward 4 years and we are now in Salt Lake City and the Cheesecake Factory has opened up. We have no interest in 4-hour lines, yes they are currently experiencing 4-hour waits, but we knew that we could order Take out. Now, if only we had their phone number.

If you want to get a phone number, you can call 411. The problem is that it costs over a $1 to just get a phone number. So, Brodi looked into it and found a free number to call to get phone numbers for free. You end up listening to a 15 second commercial, but the info is free: 1-800-Free-411.

She called it to get the Cheesecake Factory phone number and the conversation with the computer system went something like this:

Computer: City and State
Brodi: Salt Lake City, Utah
Computer: Business, Government or Residential
Brodi: Business
Computer: In what city?
Brodi: Salt Lake City (I already told you that)
Computer: Residential or Business
Brodi: Business (yes, still a business)
Computer: For what listing
Brodi: Cheesecake Factory
Computer: OK, Arbys, is that correct?
Brodi: No, Cheesecake Factory (seriously, how do you mess that one up? Does Cheesecake Factory sound like Arbys?)
Computer: Residential or Business?
Brodi: Business (still business)
Computer: For what listing?
Computer: I am sorry, I do not understand, what category?
Brodi: Business!
Computer: Would you like to search by category
Brodi: Yes (sure, what the heck).
Computer: What type of business?
Brodi: Restaurants
Computer: OK, restaurants, Arbys, All American Grill, A&W Hires, A...
Brodi: Start over, Start Over (she had quickly realized that it was going to go alphabetically)
Computer: OK, for what listing?
Brodi: Oh crap...

Finally, after about 5 minutes, a human, yes a human, came on the line. They quickly found us the Cheesecake Factory. We saved a dollar and all it took was about 8 minutes of frustration and yelling at a stinkin' computer. Yeah, next time we will pay.

We ordered the usual...Cheesecake. Dulce de Leche Caramel Cheesecake. And yes, I gained 4 pounds. But, I did save $1.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Wednesday Ramblings

Free parking in Downtown Salt Lake City rocks during the Christmas season. Those green coverings on the meters brings a tear to my eye. Normally parking in SLC is not that expensive when compared to DC or London, but it still drives me nuts to put in a dime and see you get yourself about 5 minutes. Why only 5 minutes...well, thats because that is usually all the money that I have in my ashtray. So, the question becomes, What am I going to do for 5 minutes? Do a little dance? Run into a store to tell everyone that I have to go back outside to move my car? Sit on the hood and wait for the meter to expire and then drive away? Now with free parking, my dime can stay nice and safe in my ashtray until next month when I park and have to use it to give that 5 minutes of parking.

I can be a democrat and a mormon. Crazy, but it happens. The only thing worse than being a democrat and being a mormon is being a democrat and mormon who won't vote for Mitt Romney. I haven't decided on how I am going to vote, but I have a feeling that my house may be burned down if I don't vote for him.

I am continually amazed by the utter lack of quality television that is on the boob tube right now. If it is not some shockingly bad comedy (with a laugh track that finds everything funny) or a reality show that I thought was canceled 13 years ago (The Bachelor), then it is some other crummy show. What makes it worse is that shows like Arrested Development, Veronica Mars and a few others actually get the ax. Seriously, how does that happen?

I love basketball season. It will be fun to watch the Jazz and the Utes this year. The new Ute head coach, Jim Boylen, may actually have his head explode on the sidelines at some point this year. It is extremely entertaining to watch flapping his arms and screaming and jumping around. His team may just be almost as entertaining to watch this year as he is.

If we remodel one more thing in our house, I may have to be committed.

David Rosenfelt ( is a tremendously entertaining writer. If you have a chance to waste an evening or two to laugh while also getting a thriller of a book, it is worth reading his stuff.

I love Christmas time, now if I can just spend the time to put up the stinkin' tree. I do have to say though that I impressed even myself by finally putting up Christmas lights--pictures to come later this week.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Flashback Sunday: Carter and Beckham at 6 months old

So, time to do a little comparison. Here are a couple of pictures of both boys at about 6 months old. We were surprised by how much they look like each other...definitely not twins, but you can tell they are brothers. The top picture of is of Carter, the middle is Beckham and the third picture is Carter again.

This final picture is of Carter and Beckham from last Winter. So Carter had just turned 4 years old and Beckham was just over a year old.